Parents' Guide to

A Boy Called Christmas

By Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Death, gore, peril, and pee in traumatic Santa origin story.

Book Matt Haig Holiday 2016
A Boy Called Christmas Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 9+

Based on 1 parent review

age 9+

A very dark Christmas tale.

This is quite a twisted tale about the origins of Santa Claus. While the story is well written, and works well as a read aloud, it is definitely not for sensitive or young kids. As the story opens, we read how Nikolas’ mother was chased by a bear, and fell down into a well all while Nikolas watched. The themes of death and despair run through the whole book. Nikolas is starved by his aunt, thrown in jail by the elves, and looses both parents. One of the elves has turned his newspaper (the only one in town) into a propaganda machine to get himself elected as leader of the elves. While this book is definitely different from what I expected, it did lead to a lot great conversations between me and my 9 year old.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Matt Haig's Santa origin story may not be every kid's Christmas dish, what with its mix of dead parents, exploding troll heads, greedy kidnappers, and reindeer pee among the uplifting messages. But A Boy Called Christmas, aka 11-year-old Nikolas, survives peril and trauma, shows courage and kindness, and finds ways to put magic to work spreading the joy of giving around the world. Black-and-white illustrations by Chris Mould bring the winter scenes and quirky characters to life.

Book Details

  • Author: Matt Haig
  • Illustrator: Chris Mould
  • Genre: Holiday
  • Topics: Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship, Holidays
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Knopf
  • Publication date: November 1, 2016
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
  • Number of pages: 240
  • Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
  • Last updated: December 2, 2021

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